CONTROVERSIAL Harare businessman, Bernard Mutanga’s up-market house has been auctioned by the Sheriff of the High Court over a case involving a diamond buying deal that went sour.
The double storey property with an estimated open market value of US$400 000, was sold for US$150 000 last week. Valuers sent by the Sheriff to evaluate the property were denied access, resulting in a situation where there was very limited details of the property. As a result, there was only one bidder who was interested in the property, so it was sold to him subject to confirmation.
Mutanga, who is the president of the Braitwood Institute of Gemmology and chief executive of the Zimbabwe Diamond Processing Centre, allegedly swindled a local diamond processing company, African Star Diamonds, of US$100 000 in 2011.
His company had received the money to buy diamonds from the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ).
In February 2011, African Star Diamond, a company registered to buy and polish diamonds, experienced serious problems in acquiring the gems from MMCZ resulting in its senior official, Hatineti Kevin Sachikonye, approaching Mutanga for assistance.
The negotiations resulted in African Star Diamond transferring US$100 000 to Mutanga in order for him to buy raw diamonds from the MMCZ on its behalf.
The businessman allegedly withdrew and converted the funds to his own personal use.
In 2012, African Star Diamonds got Mutanga arrested over the matter, but the courts ruled that the case was civil, rather than criminal.
He was set free.
It is a result of the civil proceedings in the courts that Mutanga’s property in Harare, listed as 692 Quinnington, a 5 031 square metre piece of land with a double storey building — also known as number 58 Hawkshead Drive, Quinnington — was set for auctioning.
Mutanga — a businessman with solid political connections — has been involved in a number of controversial cases, most of them property-related.
He was the character behind the infamous Bernwin Development Company in the late 1990s until the early 2000s before he ventured into the country’s equally controversial diamond sector.
Around the year 2000, Mutanga masterminded the arrest of two senior managers of Beverley Building Society (now part of CBZ Holdings) who had devised a way of stopping him from diverting funds from two loans that Bernwin had secured from the building society in 1999 for the development of residential properties in Chadcombe, Harare.
The arrests resulted in the managers successfully suing law enforcement agents for civil damages, while Bernwin and Beverley sued and counter-sued each other.
Many home seekers in Harare and Mutare lost money after investing into Bernwin’s housing schemes.
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